"Staying true to yourself is a key to a life of personal and professional success."
During a recent speaking engagement to a group of executives who were currently out of work and searching for their next career opportunity, I encountered persons who defined themselves by their careers. Each of the participants had a mixture of hope, fear, anger and desperation on their faces. I asked myself what advice could I offer someone who feels like their life is over?
Does your job define you? Before you quickly say no, here are three indicators that may reveal a different answer.
When your job defines you, your world becomves very narrow. Thoughts about your job and the challenges you face are always on your mind no matter what you're doing or whom you're with. You subtly begin to value people, activities and relationships based solely on how they can help your career. And you consistently withdraw your time, talent and energy from other areas of your life so that you can give more of yourself to your work, leaving you emotionally bankrupt outside the office.
When your job defines you, everything that happens at work seems personal. You overreact to small situations or the comments of a co-worker or manager. You view changes in your organization based only on how they will affect you, and you spend your time analyzing conversations and emails for hidden messages. And because you are overinvested, you systematically lose your ability to take intelligent risks or offer creative ideas, worrying that if you make a mistake you will be viewed as a failure.
When your job defines you, you don't define yourself. You're always working to fit yourself to the image of your job, and as a result you never discover who you really are. Although your uniqueness could be the source of your greatest contribution, it's a contribution that's lost as you force yourself to be exactly like everyone else.
Without question, the work you do and the fulfillment and rewards it offers are an essential element of the life you want to create. You will invest more waking hours in your chosen work than you will in virtually in other area of your life, and that's an investment that should return more than a PAYCHECK and a MEASURE OF SECURITY.
If you allow your job to define you, you will not only be robbed of the richness of your life outside of work, you will diminish the very qualities that drive your professional success, One day you could feel that you have lost everything.
Start now to define your own identity by following these suggestions:
Be passionate about your work, but be more passionate about your life. Plan the investment of your time and energy carefully, so that your work performance is balanced with relationships and activities that you also love.
Always see the bigger picture. The challenges you face at work today will be forgotten more quickly than you can imagine. Apply yourself to solving them, but remember that they are seldom life-threatening and that you, and the people around you, can find the answers you ned. Never forget that your life, and your destiny, is far greater than whatever you face now.
Stay true to whom you are. Your personal identity is separate and much larger than your job, but it's easy tolose sight of this if your're compromising the values that truly define you. Remember that you always have a choice. Resist the pressure to lower your personal standard. Stay true to what you believe and what you know is right, and you will create a life filled with INNER PEACE, RICH RELATIONSHIPS and REAL SUCCESS.